Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Pirates Game 100 Preview - vs. Los Angeles Dodgers

Los Angeles Dodgers at Pittsburgh Pirates - 7:05 p.m.
Josh Beckett (6-5, 2.26) vs. Vance Worley (2-1, 3.38)

Season Series (Pittsburgh leads 3-2)
May 29, 2014 - Pittsburgh 6, Los Angeles 3
May 30, 2014 - Pittsburgh 2, Los Angeles 1 [Recap]
May 31, 2014 - Los Angeles 12, Pittsburgh 2
June 1, 2014 - Pittsburgh 5, Los Angeles 3 [Recap]
July 21, 2014 - Los Angeles 5, Pittsburgh 2 [Recap]


Lineups

Pittsburgh (52-47)
1. Polanco 9
2. Snider 7
3. McCutchen 8
4. Walker 4
5. Martin 2
6. Davis 3
7. Alvarez 5
8. Mercer 6
9. Worley 1

Los Angeles (56-45)
1. Gordon 4
2. Turner 6
3. Gonzalez 3
4. Kemp 9
5. Ethier 8
6. Crawford 7
7. Uribe 5
8. Ellis 2
9. Beckett 1

Pirates Game 99 Recap - Dodgers 5, Pirates 2

For much of the season Edison Volquez has been really good. Last night was one of those nights where he didn't have his best stuff and it seemed like every ball that was put in play found a hole or the Pirates couldn't make the play. The Pirates were able to survive that kinda stuff against Colorado but against Hyun-Jin Ryu they weren't going to be as lucky.

The Dodgers got five runs over the third and fourth inning and while the Pirates were able to chip away with two runs in the bottom of the fourth inning you just really never got the idea that the game was close. I guess the best chance the Pirates had was in the eighth inning when Brian Wilson came in but at that point it was too little too late.

Volquez wasn't even able to make it through six innings as he threw over 100 pitches in 5.2 innings while giving up 10 hits and walking three more. You are not going to be very successful when your WHIP is over 2.0. It maybe wasn't as bad as you might think as Josh Harrison let a ball hit right at him get by two score two runs with two outs in the fourth and that opened the gates for another run to score. The Pirates official scorer gave that a double but as we know the Pirates official scorer has some head scratching decisions.

Nevertheless the outing wasn't great for Volquez. I guess you can just chalk this up to a 'meh' outing as he has been pitching pretty well for the most part this year and this wasn't a gem that I necessarily had the Pirates winning. That being said when you don't have to face Hanley Ramirez or Yasil Puig then you are getting a break and it would have been nice to take advantage of that.

Not sure if it means anything but Ernesto Frieri had another good outing. I mean this only makes it back-to-back outings where he has had shutout appearances but it is worlds better than the rest of his time as a Pirate. I guess it still remains to be seen what he can bring but he threw nine of his 13 pitches for strikes and while he gave up a hit he looked pretty well. He worked his fastball in the mid-90s and this would be a huge change for the bullpen if he can get back to throwing strikes, even if that isn't coming in high leverage situations.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Pirates Game 99 Preview - vs. Los Angeles Dodgers

Los Angeles Dodgers vs. Pittsburgh Pirates - 7:05 p.m.
Hyun-Jin Ryu (10-5, 3.44) vs. Edinson Volquez (8-6, 3.65)

Season Series (Pittsburgh leads 3-1)
May 29, 2014 - Pittsburgh 6, Los Angeles 3
May 30, 2014 - Pittsburgh 2, Los Angeles 1 [Recap]
May 31, 2014 - Los Angeles 12, Pittsburgh 2
Jun1 1, 2014 - Pittsburgh 5, Los Angeles 3 [Recap]


Lineups

Pittsburgh (52-46)
1. Harrison 5
2. Marte 7
3. McCutchen 8
4. Sanchez 3
5. Walker 4
6. Martin 2
7. Mercer 6
8. Martinez 9
9. Volquez 1

Los Angeles (55-45)
1. Gordon 4
2. Turner 6
3. Gonzalez 3
4. Kemp 9
5. Ethier 8
6. Crawford 7
7. Uribe 5
8. Ellis 2
9. Ryu 1

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Pirates Game 98 Recap - Pirates 5, Rockies 3

The Pirates didn't play good baseball out of the All Star break. Luckily for the Pirates the Rockies are not a very good baseball team and therefore the Pirates earned a three game sweep and have a chance to move within 1.5 games of Milwaukee and St. Louis in the NL Central race.

Jeff Locke wasn't good and he wasn't bad. He gave up a first inning three run bomb to Josh Rutledge and then the very next inning Michael McKenry went deep and it as 3-0. The funny thing was that while it was 3-0 I didn't think for a second that Colorado was going to win the game. It was kinda of what was going on the entire series but you knew the Pirates were going to come back and win and they did.

Locke ended up going six innings, walking two, and giving up seven hits and settled down after the second inning. I think last year's Locke would have just imploded with a series of walks and awful pitches but he seems different this year. Filling up the zone has just done wonders for his game and despite putting a few guys on he still threw 58 pitches for strikes of the 85 he threw.

The Pirates got two of the runs back in the third inning thanks to a Jordy Mercer double and then tied the game in the sixth on a Chris Stewart double (!!!) which was his second extra base hit of the game (!!!).

In the seventh the Rockies decided to pitch to Andrew McCutchen with first base open and a 3-1 count in the seventh inning and that worked about for the Rockies about as well as you thought it would. Later in the inning Neil Walker went deep and that was it.

For the most part this season McCutchen has put the team on his back. This series it really hasn't been that way. Walker and Mercer have been nothing short of outstanding and when you can get Stewart to come in with a couple of extra base hits you don't want to waste that in a loss.

Walker has been a man on fire after the break. In the series he was 7-for-12 with a pair of three hit games and scored five runs. When he is on his hot streaks he can really carry the offense. Usually the hot streaks don't last a very long time but with a big series coming up against the Dodgers it is going to be huge for Walker to be on one of those streaks and help out the offense against a very good Dodgers staff.

Good stuff from Stewart after the game:



Stewart had one extra base hit before coming into today.

Along with 12 hits today the Pirates walked five times. That will win you a lot of games.

Pirates Game 98 Preview - vs. Colorado Rockies

Colorado Rockies at Pittsburgh Pirates - 1:35 p.m.
Tyler Matzek (1-4, 4.97) vs. Jeff Locke (2-1, 2.89)

Season Series (Pittsburgh leads 2-0)
July 18, 2014 - Pittsburgh 4, Colorado 2 [Recap]
July 19, 2014 - Pittsburgh 3, Colorado 2 (11 inn.)


Lineups

Pittsburgh (51-46)
1. Polanco 9
2. Harrison 7
3. McCutchen 8
4. Sanchez 3
5. Walker 4
6. Mercer 6
7. Alvarez 5
8. Stewart 2
9. Locke 1

Colorado (40-57)
1. Barnes 7
2. Rutledge 6
3. Gonzalez 9
4. Arenado 5
5. Stubbs 8
6. Culberson 3
7. McKenry 2
8. LeMahieu 4
9. Matzek 1

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Pirates Game 97 Preview - vs. Colorado Rockies

Colorado Rockies at Pittsburgh Pirates - 7:05 p.m.
Brett Anderson (0-3, 4.95) vs. Charlie Morton (5-9, 3.32)

Season Series (Pittsburgh leads 1-0)
July 18, 2014 - Pittsburgh 4, Colorado 2 [Recap]


Lineups

Pittsburgh (50-46)
1. Polanco 9
2. Harrison 7
3. McCutchen 8
4. Martin 2
5. Walker 4
6. Sanchez 3
7. Alvarez 5
8. Mercer 6
9. Morton 1

Colorado (40-56)
1. Blackmon 8
2. Arenado 5
3. Gonzalez 3
4. Tulowitzki 6
5. Dickerson 7
6. Rosario 2
7. Culberson 3
8. LeMahieu 4
9. Anderson 1

The Pirates and Ian Kennedy?

Got this tidbit today from Ken Rosenthal:



This would make me happy. The Pirates are obviously not going to go out and get a guy like David Price nor were they ever players for a guy like Jeff Samardzija but the fact remains that they need pitching help. While guys like Vance Worley and Jeff Locke have kept things in check it surely wouldn't hurt for them to pick up an arm for the rotation. Francisco Liriano still has something to prove and Gerrit Cole has had a hard time staying healthy and consistent this season.

Brandon Cumpton has been pretty good but to be honest with you I am not sure that he is the type of guy I would really trust down the stretch run. That is just more of a gut feeling on my part but if you gave me a choice between Kennedy and Cumpton I think I would take Kennedy every time.

Kennedy really burst on to the scene back in 2011 when he headlined the Arizona staff into the playoffs with a 2.88 ERA over 222 innings. The last couple of years he has struggled a good bit but seems to be back on the track this year than he was in 2011.

Year Age Tm W L ERA GS IP H R HR BB SO FIP WHIP H9 HR9 BB9 SO9
2007 22 NYY 1 0 1.89 3 19.0 13 6 1 9 15 3.77 1.158 6.2 0.5 4.3 7.1
2008 23 NYY 0 4 8.17 9 39.2 50 37 5 26 27 5.45 1.916 11.3 1.1 5.9 6.1
2009 24 NYY 0 0 0.00 0 1.0 0 0 0 2 1 10.10 2.000 0.0 0.0 18.0 9.0
2010 25 ARI 9 10 3.80 32 194.0 163 87 26 70 168 4.33 1.201 7.6 1.2 3.2 7.8
2011 26 ARI 21 4 2.88 33 222.0 186 73 19 55 198 3.22 1.086 7.5 0.8 2.2 8.0
2012 27 ARI 15 12 4.02 33 208.1 216 101 28 55 187 4.04 1.301 9.3 1.2 2.4 8.1
2013 28 TOT 7 10 4.91 31 181.1 180 108 27 73 163 4.59 1.395 8.9 1.3 3.6 8.1
2013 28 ARI 3 8 5.23 21 124.0 128 79 18 48 108 4.60 1.419 9.3 1.3 3.5 7.8
2013 28 SDP 4 2 4.24 10 57.1 52 29 9 25 55 4.58 1.343 8.2 1.4 3.9 8.6
2014 29 SDP 7 9 3.62 21 129.1 120 53 10 37 137 2.98 1.214 8.4 0.7 2.6 9.5
8 Yrs 60 49 3.95 162 994.2 928 465 116 327 896 3.93 1.262 8.4 1.0 3.0 8.1
162 Game Avg. 13 10 3.95 34 207 194 97 24 68 187 3.93 1.262 8.4 1.0 3.0 8.1
ARI (4 yrs) 48 34 3.82 119 748.1 693 340 91 228 661 3.96 1.231 8.3 1.1 2.7 7.9
NYY (3 yrs) 1 4 6.03 12 59.2 63 43 6 37 43 4.99 1.676 9.5 0.9 5.6 6.5
SDP (2 yrs) 11 11 3.81 31 186.2 172 82 19 62 192 3.47 1.254 8.3 0.9 3.0 9.3
NL (5 yrs) 59 45 3.82 150 935.0 865 422 110 290 853 3.86 1.235 8.3 1.1 2.8 8.2
AL (3 yrs) 1 4 6.03 12 59.2 63 43 6 37 43 4.99 1.676 9.5 0.9 5.6 6.5
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 7/19/2014.

Currently Kennedy is striking out better than a batter per inning (9.53) which is well above his career average of 8.11 and he has got his HR/FB way down to 7.8% which is much lower than it was in 2012 (10.8%) and 2013 (13.2%) and nearly identical to his 2011 rate (7.7%).

His ERA is more than a full run lower than last year (3.62 this season) and has a 2.98 FIP and 3.24 xFIP. This is in part to getting a lot more ground balls (41.7%, highest of career) and having a line drive rate of 20.9% which is nearly 3% better than last season.

Kennedy rolls with a fastball, curveball, and change up and this season he is averaging nearly 92 mph on his fastball which is the highest of his career after averaging under 91 his entire career.

Kennedy isn't a staff ace but he would fit nicely in behind Cole and Morton and would give the Pirates a lot more depth. Granted, I am not sure what it might take to get Kennedy but he is also under team control through next season which is something that Huntington has always like to have when trading for a player. The Pirates haven't shied away from deals like this in the past and Neal Huntington has been able to improve the team at the deadline each of the past three deadlines. This would improve the team and hopefully this gains legs.

UPDATE: Tim over at Pirates Prospects tries to give some kind of idea as to what trade value might be and he also gives his thoughts.

Pirates Game 96 Recap - Pirates 4, Rockies 2

This was far from ideal, but a win is a win. The Rockies are not a good baseball team and as the night went on it seemed like the Pirates wanted to match them but in the end it was a big eighth inning that put the Pirates ahead.

Overall the Pirates gathered three errors and many more mistakes that aren't officially errors and to be honest it is somehow impressive that Colorado only scored two runs. In each of the first two innings the Rockies had the bases loaded thanks to Francisco Liriano having no idea where the ball was going and it could have got real bad real fast. In the first inning Liriano walked two and gave up a hit but got a double play to get out. In the second inning he would have got out with no runs allowed if Jordy Mercery didn't look like he was trying to chest down every single ball that was hit to him. If not for that the Rockies wouldn't have scored a run at all. I don't know how, but Liriano kept it together.

It was another start where Liriano just looked lost. I talked about his troubles in the first two innings but after a nearly 30 pitch first inning he somewhat settled down and got through five innings, striking out eight, walking three, and giving up only three hits. If you take out the first inning Liriano did pretty well and probably could have got through six or seven innings. The problem is that you have to include that inning. It was better than his first start back from the DL and it was good to see his velocity back up to the mid-90's, but he needs to figure out the control as most teams aren't going to let him off the hook like the Rockies did.

The offense kinda was like the pitching. They didn't really do anything great but they made the most of their opportunities. Down 1-0 with two outs Starling Marte tripled down the left field line thanks to a pretty bad misplay by Corey Dickerson that nearly led to an inside the park home run. Problem is that Marte got thrown out. I am not really sure how I feel about Marte going for it but I will say that he got to third base a lot faster than I thought he was going to. The fan in me doesn't care that he got thrown out at home because seeing him chance it like that is a lot of fun to watch. Maybe he should have stayed at third since the best player in the National League coming up next but who cares. It was fun as hell to watch.

Marte was involved in the other Pirates run that once again tied the game. With the bases loaded in the seventh inning and one out Marte was hit in the helmet with a pitch. It was ugly. An Adam Ottavino pitch got away from him and drilled Marte and he was down for a little while. To be honest with you I have pretty surprised that Marte was allowed to continue in the game. He wasn't as messed up as he was the last time he was concussed but even if he was fine I don't think there was a reason that he should have been left in the game. I would probably rather be safe than sorry in this situation but that's just me.

Neil Walker and Gaby Sanchez started the party in the eighth inning that ended with a Travis Snider pinch hit double and a Josh Harrison sacrifice fly to tack on an insurance run. It was a good end to what was a shaky night overall for the Pirates. It got them to 50 wins and with everyone but Cincinnati winning last night it helped the Pirates stay square with where they ended the unofficial first half. Getting another win tonight is pretty important as the Pirates have to continue to beat up on bad teams.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Evidently Andrew McCutchen Isn't The MVP Of His Own Team

So I opened up the Trib today and saw this:


It doesn't matter who wrote this, but if you want to know you can open up the sports section of the Trib.

Evidently Andrew McCutchen and Russell Martin didn't play for the Pirates in the first half of the season.

So, just let this sink in. McCutchen has been widely regarded as a possible first half MVP of the entire league but according to some he is not the MVP of his own team.

If you think that makes sense then I have ocean front property in North Dakota to sell you.

Pirates Game 96 Preview - vs. Colorado Rockies

Colorado Rockies at Pittsburgh Pirates - 7:05 p.m.
Jorge De La Rosa (10-6, 4.56) vs. Francisco Liriano (1-7, 4.72)


Lineups

Pittsburgh (49-46)
1. Polanco 9
2. Marte 7
3. McCutchen 8
4. Martin 2
5. Walker 4
6. Sanchez 3
7. Alvarez 5
8. Mercer 6
9. Liriano 1

Colorado (40-55)
1. Dickerson 7
2. Stubbs 8
3. Gonzalez 9
4. Tulowitzki 6
5. Arenando 5
6. Rosario 2
7. Culberson 3
8. LeMahieu 4
9. De La Rosa 1

Monday, July 14, 2014

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Pirates Game 95 Preview - @ Cincinnati Reds

Pittsburgh Pirates at Cincinnati Reds - 1:10 p.m.
Francisco Liriano (1-6, 4.60) vs. Johnny Cueto (9-6, 2.03)

Season Series (Reds lead 8-4)
April 14, 2014 - Pittsburgh 8, Cincinnati 7 [Recap]
April 15, 2014 - Cincinnati 7, Pittsburgh 5 [Recap]
April 16, 2014 - Cincinnati 4, Pittsburgh 0 [Recap]
April 21, 2014 - Pittsburgh 6, Cincinnati 5 [Recap]
April 22, 2014 - Cincinnati 4, Pittsburgh 1 [Recap]
April 23, 2014 - Cincinnati 5, Pittsburgh 2 [Recap]
April 24, 2014 - Cincinnati 2, Pittsburgh 1 [Recap]
June 17, 2014 - Cincinnati 6, Pittsburgh 5 [Recap]
June 18, 2014 - Cincinnati 11, Pittsburgh 4 [Recap]
June 19, 2014 - Pittsburgh 4, Cincinnati 3 (12 inn.) [Recap]
July 11, 2014 - Cincinnati 6, Pittsburgh 5
July 12, 2014 - Pittsburgh 6, Cincinnati 5 (11 inn.)


Lineups

Pittsburgh (49-45)
1. Polanco 9
2. Harrison 7
3. McCutchen 8
4. Walker 4
5. Martin 2
6. Davis 3
7. Alvarez 5
8. Mercer 6
9. Liriano 1

Cincinnati (50-44)
1. Hamilton 8
2. Cozart 6
3. Frazier 5
4. Heisey 7
5. Bruce 9
6. Mesoraco 2
7. Pena 3
8. Negron 4
9. Cueto 1

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Pirates Game 94 Preview - @ Cincinnati Reds

Pittsburgh Pirates at Cincinnati Reds - 7:15 p.m.
Charlie Morton (5-9, 3.10) vs. Mike Leake (7-7, 3.42)

Season Series (Reds lead 8-3)
April 14, 2014 - Pittsburgh 8, Cincinnati 7 [Recap]
April 15, 2014 - Cincinnati 7, Pittsburgh 5 [Recap]
April 16, 2014 - Cincinnati 4, Pittsburgh 0 [Recap]
April 21, 2014 - Pittsburgh 6, Cincinnati 5 [Recap]
April 22, 2014 - Cincinnati 4, Pittsburgh 1 [Recap]
April 23, 2014 - Cincinnati 5, Pittsburgh 2 [Recap]
April 24, 2014 - Cincinnati 2, Pittsburgh 1 [Recap]
June 17, 2014 - Cincinnati 6, Pittsburgh 5 [Recap]
June 18, 2014 - Cincinnati 11, Pittsburgh 4 [Recap]
June 19, 2014 - Pittsburgh 4, Cincinnati 3 (12 inn.) [Recap]
July 11, 2014 - Cincinnati 6, Pittsburgh 5


Lineups

Pittsburgh (48-45)
1. Polanco 9
2. Snider 7
3. McCutchen 8
4. Walker 4
5. Martin 2
6. Alvarez 5
7. Sanchez 3
8. Mercer 6
9. Morton 1

Cincinnati (50-43)
1. Hamilton 8
2. Santiago 4
3. Frazier 5
4. Bruce 9
5. Mesoraco 2
6. Ludwick 7
7. Pena 3
8. Cozart 6
9. Leake 1